Speeding convictions overturned

Three people have lost separate High Court challenges aimed at overturning their convictions for speeding.

Mr Justice Michael White yesterday ruled none of the grounds advanced by the three in judicial review proceedings entitled them to orders quashing their convictions by the district court.

All three received fixed penalty notices after vehicles registered as owned by them were recorded on different dates in 2013 as driven in excess of the applicable speed limits. None paid the notices as required and all argued they were not driving the vehicles at the time. They also failed to return, within the prescribed time limits, the relevant notices, stating they were not the drivers.

Mr Justice White said the Road Traffic Act states, in prosecutions for fixed penalty offences where the driver is not identified by gardaí and where the notice has not been returned with another person nominated as driver, it is presumed the owner of the vehicle was the driver at the time of the offence. That presumption can be rebutted on the balance of probabilities, the judge said.

He rejected as incorrect arguments by all three owners that their sworn evidence they were not driving at the time was sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt requiring their acquittals and said the relevant court of fact had discretion to accept or reject that evidence.

The district court is not entitled to proceed to conviction relying only on failure of the relevant owner to return the form designating the correct driver, he noted. The district court had to be satisfied all the ingredients of the offence were proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Dismissing all three cases, Mr Justice White ruled there was sufficient evidence before the relevant district judges for them to convict and said they had discretion to accept or reject the evidence put before them.

None of the three applicants had been given leave to argue that each of the district judges had erred in law by treating the alleged offence as a strict liability offence, where a registered owner can be convicted of the offence if they fail to complete the form designating another person as the driver at the relevant time, Mr Justice White noted.


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